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The staff of the Fundación Secretariado Gitano mobilise to meet the needs of the Roma population [editar]

We continue to work to alleviate the effects of the Covid-19 public health crisis on the most vulnerable people

Fundación Secretariado Gitano

The staff of the Fundación Secretariado Gitano mobilise to meet the needs of the Roma population

We have switched from in-person assistance to telephone calls and WhatsApp; we have replaced learning support classes with virtual ones using the mobile phone; and we are teleworking instead of meeting at the office.

The coronavirus crisis has forced us to switch to new channels of communication, but it has not stopped our activity, which is more vital than ever during this crisis, whose worst effects fall on the most vulnerable people. The 800-plus staff of the Fundación Secretariado Gitano have mobilised (through teleworking) in more than 60 locations across Spain, and are determined to meet the needs of those who depend on us the most.

Our priority is to work closely with the most vulnerable. We must remember that in Spain, the social situation of Roma people is very precarious: 80% live below the poverty threshold; 46% live in extreme poverty; and more than 9,000 families live in substandard housing. We have therefore stepped up our assistance and advice services, giving attention to people’s health and social situations, meeting their requests, helping them to obtain welfare aid and benefits, and channeling available resources, both public and private. The declaration of the state of alarm has put an abrupt end to street vending activities, which used to relieve the precarious situation of many families. These families now lack basic resources and in many cases find themselves in a situation of social emergency. 

In addition, at this critical juncture, it is vital to continue with social advancement activities. We have therefore adapted our programmes in the areas of employment, education, housing, health, social assistance, equality, etc, with the aim that, when this crisis is over, the inequality gap will not have grown even wider, and no one will be left behind.

We also continue with our work to fight discrimination, to raise awareness and to exert influence in political and social spheres. We are in constant contact with the public administration and with other agents involved in this social and public health crisis, making proposals to Government and insistently reminding national, regional and local authorities of the need to urgently apply the agreed social measures and to establish priorities which focus on the most vulnerable neighbourhoods. We extend this call to the institutions of the European Union, which has powerful tools at its disposal, such as the Structural and Investment Funds, through which it could offer a rapid, effective response.

  • Personalised attention during the coronavirus crisis Among other actions: 

    Together with the Roma community
    . We are in constant contact with the people who participate in our programmes across Spain, by phone, WhatsApp, email, social networks, etc, to find out what their needs are and to offer appropriate solutions. We also ensure they receive the information about protective and preventive measures which the health authorities have been disseminating since the start of the crisis.

    We get the available resources
    to where they are needed. We pass on essential, reliable information from the authorities and ensure that Roma people in need can access the available resources (food aid, sanitary products, etc).   

    So that no one is left behind
    . We exert pressure on local, regional and national government to ensure they urgently take into account the needs of the most vulnerable.

    Educational guidance and learning support. A team of 256 professionals in the educational field continue to guide families and pupils, to offer remote learning support to Roma girls and boys, and to search for ways of bridging the digital divide (offering support by telephone, etc). We create new materials and compile educational resources to support pupils.

    Continuous coordination with centres of education.
    We have increased our efforts relating to coordination with educational centres and with teachers of girls and boys. This is to ensure that children are not left unable to complete the compulsory tasks set online, and that they can continue to follow their courses despite the lack of technological tools in many households..

    Employment advice
    . Our employment advisors across Spain are providing information about the new online administrative processes which must be completed by freelancers, unemployed people, workers, those affected by temporary layoffs, etc.

    Online training
    for individuals and groups. We are continuing with online delivery of some of our courses, in particular those relating to digital skills and training to enhance employability (creating video-CVs, interview simulations, job-searching tools) using mobile phones, social networks and specific applications. We provide printed materials for some courses, to bridge the digital divide for students without an internet connection.

    Information on street vending activities. More than ever at this time of crisis, we are providing information to street vendors so that they can access the resources which have been made available to alleviate the effects of the socioeconomic crisis. We are also putting pressure on the Government to ensure that these vendors are covered by the measures adopted, such as the moratorium on social security payments.  

    We continue to fight against discrimination, against the discourse of anti-Roma hate and against hoax messages, and to raise public awareness through social networks and through all our channels of online communication.

    Through our communications, we also try to offer our encouragement and our strength so that we can come through this crisis together.

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